The Old-School Liberal

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom” — Friedrich Hayek

Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Does the Constitution Also Scare Elizabeth Edwards?

Posted by Poorsummary on December 24, 2007

Gun ControlThe Economist quotes Elizabeth Edwards expressing her fear of Mike Huckabee and Republicans in general:

“[Mike Huckabee] doesn’t believe in evolution and has some nutty views about what it is we should do about ending violence in our inner city—we should make sure all of our young people are armed. Republicans scare me.”

While there are legitimate reasons to fear, or at least disagree with, Mike Huckabee (e.g. his tax reform legislation that doesn’t actually eliminate any existing taxes) and Republicans (e.g. their determination to make criminals of people who use or prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with state laws), the right to bear arms is not one of them. Reading Edwards’ quote above does make gun ownership seem like a silly answer to ending violence, but if one looks at the empirical evidence, there is little reason to believe that making it a crime to own a gun does anything but ensure that the only people who own guns are criminals. Consider the following examples of gun ownership deterring crime:

  1. In 1966 the police in Orlando, Florida, responded to a rape epidemic by embarking on a highly publicized program to train 2,500 women in firearm use. The next year rape fell by 88 percent in Orlando (the only major city to experience a decrease that year); burglary fell by 25 percent. Not one of the 2,500 women actually ended up firing her weapon; the deterrent effect of the publicity sufficed. Five years later Orlando’s rape rate was still 13 percent below the pre-program level, whereas the surrounding standard metropolitan area had suffered a 308 percent increase.
  2. During a 1974 police strike in Albuquerque armed citizens patrolled their neighborhoods and shop owners publicly armed themselves; felonies dropped significantly.
  3. In March 1982 Kennesaw, Georgia, enacted a law requiring householders to keep a gun at home; house burglaries fell from 65 per year to 26, and to 11 the following year.
  4. Similar publicized training programs for gun-toting merchants sharply reduced robberies in stores in Highland Park, Michigan, and in New Orleans; a grocers organization’s gun clinics produced the same result in Detroit.

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Ron Paul: The Most Electible Republican

Posted by Poorsummary on December 2, 2007

Ron Paul AdThe 2008 presidential election is rapidly approaching, and Republicans are going to have a difficult time holding onto the presidency after the Bush administration. Prediction markets like Intrade provide a fairly accurate assessment of the probability of each candidate winning the primary nomination, as well as the probability of each candidate becoming president. In determining which candidate to send to a general election, however, primary voters should choose the candidate most likely to win the general election, given that they receive the primary nomination.

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Will the GOP Reduce the Size of the Government?

Posted by Poorsummary on November 30, 2007


In the GOP Youtube debate, Emily Ekins asked a very straightforward question which begs for a simple answer: “What are the names of the top three federal programs you would reduce in size in order to decrease [spending]?” Here are the answers:

Fred Thompson seemed to be answering the question when he started talking vaguely about Medicare and Social Security reform, but he makes it clear that he is not providing a straightforward answer:

Cooper: So of the top three you would say Social Security?

Thompson: No. I didn’t say that. There is — the OMB has come out with a list of over 100 programs. I would take all 100 of them, the ones that are full of waste, fraud and duplication.

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Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Current Events, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ron Paul: the Centrist Republican

Posted by Poorsummary on November 14, 2007

Centrist

While the mainstream media has panned Ron Paul as a “fringe candidate,” it turns out he may be the most centrist of all the Republican candidates. Ask any democrat you know what the 2 most important issues are in this presidential election and you’re likely to hear “the environment,” and “the war.”

Since its hard to know exactly what a candidate will do based on what they say in debates (remember Bush’s “humble” foreign policy with no nation building?) it’s important to look at their actual previous behavior. For congressman and senators, this means their voting record.

The environmental advocacy group League of Conservation Voters publishes a National Environmental Scorecard for every Congress since 1970. According to their website, “The Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from more than 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded.”

Suffice it to say the democrats lead the pack on the environment (bear in mind that the costs of such bills are not taken into consideration), but when it comes to the Republicans, something very interesting has occured. Ron Paul was the most environmentally friendly Republican presidential candidate rated. Here are the life-time scores (note that the other front-runners, Guliani and Romney, are omitted since they were not congressmen or senators): Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Current Events, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Getting the Facts Straight About Global Warming

Posted by Poorsummary on November 12, 2007

Global Warming

A few weeks ago, I posted a link to a John Stossel article on global warming. My link to the article elicited the following response from Jonnonogood:

“This is wrong. Maybe get your facts correct…Thats is a 20ft rise if Greenland melted. This what the 2007 IPCC report agrees with. You sad little man, learn your facts. He never stated a date to when this would happen. Go read a book!”

Jonnonogood wants me to get my facts correct– or to be more precise, he wants me to get Stossel’s facts correct, since I merely posted a link to Stossel’s article– but fair enough. Let’s consider the facts in my excerpt of Stossel’s article:

Fact 1: “Gore says that if we allow the globe to warm, ‘sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet.'”

This should be easy enough to check. Either Gore said that allowing the globe to warm would result in a 20 foot increase in sea levels, or he didn’t. Thankfully, Greg Hoke has posted the transcript to Gore’s movie (from which Jonnonogood quoted in his comment) here. Here’s what Gore said:

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Posted in Current Events, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

No child left…un-protected?

Posted by Poorsummary on October 30, 2007


Bob Barrto provide students as young as 11 years old with the most invasive types of birth control, including pills, patches and even implants.” Unfortunately, Mr. Barr calls for more federal involvement in education as a solution to this egregious violation of the responsibilities of Portland parents:

“Not a single [presidential] candidate — in either of the two major parties, that is — seems to consider the fundamental questions of what is being taught in our public schools, and how well it is being taught, as sufficiently important to discuss publicly during this campaign.”

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Posted in Constitution, Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Of Vouchers and Liberty

Posted by Devin J. Ekins on October 25, 2007

The School voucher issue raging in the reddest of states, Utah, has polarized many organizations and individuals into two camps, Pro-Voucher and Anti-Voucher, both giving praise and promising help to the Public Education System. Whether vouchers will actually aid the Public Education System is a function of both dollars allotted and freedoms allowed.

The voucher proposal is one where every student currently enrolled in the government schools has the opportunity to accept a partial refund for their involuntary purchase in the government schools if they enroll in a private school. This refund is dependent on your financial situation and ranges between $500 and $3,000. Note that the average cost for a student in the government schools is $7,000.

Voucher opponents claim this move would take money away from the government system that desperately needs it. Would it? That depends. The average cost is $7,000. Up to $3,000 is taken away from the schools along with one student that costs, on average, $7,000. In a basic scenario, the public school stands to gain between $4,000 and $6,500 per student that accepts the offer. This leaves smaller class sizes and more money for the school per student.

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Eminent Domain: The Rise of the Command and Control Economy

Posted by Poorsummary on October 24, 2007

The eminent domain clause of the U.S. and most (if not all) states’ constitutions allows for the government to seize property (with compensation at what the court deems to be the “market” value) for public use. The economic rationale behind such an argument is that bargaining difficulties may prevent the construction of things like courts, post offices (can anyone remind me why the government runs the mail service?), water treatment plants, roads, and the like.

While an unfortunate violation of property rights, the use of eminent domain for such projects can perhaps be justified on utilitarian grounds; however, a recent trend has emerged in which state bureaucrats have begun seizing private property from one group of private individuals (often including the poor) and transferring it to another group of private individuals (often including big businesses). Alarmingly, the rationale for making such a seizure often is based on the grounds of increased tax revenue: e.g. “If I can give this block of low income housing to a private developer, if he can turn it into a high tax-revenue strip mall, and if the government can then use the revenues for the “public good,” then we are properly using eminent domain for projects intended for public use.”

Carlos Barragan

This argument is really no different than other socialist arguments for government control of property. A respect for personal property rights simply does not allow this type of justification for government coercion.

Carlos Barragan, the next victim of America’s socialism

A recent case involving government abuse of eminent domain can be found in The Community Youth Athletic Center (CYAC), founded by Carlos Barragan and his son, Carlos Jr. Currently, the city of National City, CA intends to seize the gym through eminent domain so that Jim Beauchamp can build high-end condos on that property. Jeff Rowes of The Institute for Justice reports:

“To make this happen, and to enable the city to transfer other private property to big business, National City is preparing to once again declare ‘blighted’ hundreds of commercial properties within a decades-old blight zone that covers two-thirds of the entire city. [This] enables National City to take low-tax-yielding small businesses and give that land to developers who promise to build high-tax-yielding properties, such as condos and big-box stores…As any visitor can attest, National City’s sprawling blight zone is remarkable for its lack of blight: the streets are lined with lovingly tended homes and thriving, though often humble, small businesses. Rather than embrace its grassroots entrepreneurs, however, National City plans to demolish them—and their dreams—in favor of retail mega-stores and upscale condos.”

For those of you hoping the Supreme Court will get involved to stop this blatant abuse of government power, I refer you to the infuriating Kelo decision. The full text can be found here (read the dissenting opinions, if nothing else). A NY Times article on the decision can be found here.

Posted in Constitution, Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Romney working hard to put food on his family?

Posted by Poorsummary on October 22, 2007

Romney, from the latest Fox news debate:

All of us on the stage are Republican. But the question is, who will be able to build the house that Ronald Reagan built — who will be able to strengthen that house, because that’s the house that’s going to build the house that Clinton, Hillary, wants to build”

Huh? With uncharacteristic disheveled hair, Romney began tonight’s debate on the wrong foot with this particularly jumbled anthropomorphism of a residential dwelling. The Republican front-runners (with the notable exception of Ron Paul) have long followed suit with Bush on the Iraq war, but now Romney has gone one step further by mimicking Bush’s blundering public speaking skills.

In all fairness, letting one’s tongue get ahead of one’s brain is something every politician and public speaker deals with from time to time. What Romney, Guliani, and the rest of the neo-conservative bunch need to worry about is their disrespect for the constitution, the rule of law, the concept of truly limited government, and individual freedom. Unfortunately, principled, just, and economically sound leadership requires that we allow people to make decisions that are not always the best for them– the reason being that bureaucrats in Washington, if they make the decisions for us, are going to get it much more wrong much more often. To quote Jacob Hornberger, “If you are not free to choose wrongly and irresponsibly, you are not free at all.” An unwillingness of the public to recognize the inherent ineptitude of government in making the correct decisions for individuals is what underlies most of the biggest political blunders of history– from prohibition, to social “security,” to the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on terror, and any other wars on abstract nouns we care to dream up. Most people choose to deal in abstracts, ignoring the unintended consequences and inherent violence of government action. Fighting poverty sounds good, but forcibly taking from the industrious to give to those in need is less appealing. Fighting drug use seems like a no-brainer, but “drug use” is an abstract concept that only exists as a shorthand for describing the activities of those who choose to use drugs. The typical politician ignores the injustice of his actions, turning a blind eye to those hurt by the policy he peddles, eager to shake another hand or kiss another baby of someone equally willing to ignore the blatant injustices of a coercive, paternalistic state. To see this phenomenon, this time exhibited by Mitt Romney, but equally practiced by the social planners and statists across the simplistic, one-dimensional political spectrum, click here.

In related news, Ron Paul did not fair quite as well with the pro-war Florida crowd as with crowds past, receiving more boos than any candidate other than Hillary Clinton. It seems the Republican party is suffering from what HBS professor Clayton Christensen calls the “Innovators Dilemma“– the phenomenon of businesses catering so closely to their existing customer base, that they lose sight of the unmet needs of the population as a whole, and are subsequently displaced by new, innovative technologies. In this case, everyone but Paul insists on pandering to the largely pro-war republican base, while losing sight of the vast majority of Americans that wants it to end (and fast– sorry, Hillary; no decade-long pull-out strategy will do). Will the Republican party insist on throwing away an election on an already lost (and virtually unwinnable) war? Probably not– whoever wins the nomination will likely have a convenient change of heart and start talking a lot more about getting out of Iraq after the primaries.

Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Current Events, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Oklahoma Believes in Free Speech*

Posted by Poorsummary on October 18, 2007

*Not really. It turns out that if you circulate petitions in Oklahoma, but you are not an Oklahoma resident, you owe the state $1,000 and/or a year of your life in a county jail. Here’s the down and dirty in legalese:

“It shall be unlawful for any person other than a qualified elector of the state of Oklahoma [citizens of the United States, over the age of eighteen (18) years, who are bona fide Oklahoma residents] to circulate any initiative or referendum petition to amend, add to, delete, strike or otherwise change in any way the Constitution or laws of the State of Oklahoma, or of any subdivision of the State of Oklahoma . . . . Every person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed one (1) year, or by both said fine and imprisonment.”

You might think you could circumvent this seemingly unconstitutional law by simply moving into the state, declaring residency, and then moving out after you’ve circulated your petitions. In this case, however, you’d be committing fraud against the state, which will land you up to 10 years– TEN YEARS– in prison, plus a $25,000 fine.

Now this is more than one of those obnoxious, but oft ignored laws, such as not making clam chowder in Boston with a tomato. In fact, grassroots political activist Paul Jacob faces these very charges. And what was the subversive legislation he was trying to pass? State-sponsored Satanism? Federally mandated gay marriage? Nope: Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). That’s right, this guy could end up spending a decade in the slammer because he organized people from other states to help mobilize Oklahoma voters to limit the ability of bureaucrats to dole out taxpayers’ money to special interest groups without taxpayer consent. Remarkable.

Learn more about Paul Jacobs and how you can help end a politically motivated abuse of power here. Learn more about what makes a law a good law here.

Posted in Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics, Rule of Law | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »